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Bridgeport, Chinatown, McKinley Park

Former Myopic Books Owners Opening New Bookstore In Bridgeport

After years on the farm, Joe Judd and his family are returning to Chicago and opening as Tangible Books at 3324 S. Halsted St.

Myopic Books in Wicker Park.
Hannah Alani / Block Club Chicago
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BRIDGEPORT — For the former owners of Myopic Books in Wicker Park, a move back to Chicago means a chance to build a new community staple in a different part of the city: Bridgeport.

Myopic Books founder and former owner Joe Judd and his family are returning to Chicago and opening Tangible Books at 3324 S. Halsted St. They’ve launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $15,000 to move their existing central Illinois shop to the city.

So far the GoFundMe has raised nearly $3,000.

“It’s a large endeavor to move a bookstore,” Judd said. “We have about 50,000 or 60,000 books, and about 200 bookcases. So it takes a lot to do that and, you know, we just don’t didn’t have the money to be able to just do it all at once. So that’s what we needed to be able to get a start about having a bookstore in Chicago again.”

Judd and his wife, Lisa, sold Myopic Books about 10 years ago, and moved to Arkansas. From there, they went to downstate Charleston where they had a truck farm growing produce for sale. Myopic’s original Wicker Park location remains open under new ownership.

Though they didn’t originally plan to open another bookstore, Judd said Bob’s Bookstore just sort of happened.

“There were people down there who wanted us to buy their bookstore and, at first, we were talking about maybe being partners. And then it just became taking over their bookstore,” Judd said. “Then at the last minute, they decided against it. And there we were with a lease and a bunch of books. So we opened a bookstore, and that’s what we’ve done for the past six years.”

When the family decided to come back to the city, Judd said they also wanted to bring their store with them. Money raised from the crowdsourcing would help pay for several 26-foot-long trucks to transport the books and shelves, and hire help to unload them.

The rest of the money would go toward gas, lights and fixtures, an electrician, new signage, a new counter, bookcases and labor.

“It’s a lot of boxes, and a lot of bookcases,” Judd said. “And it just takes money to be able to do that plus, the rent is much higher in Chicago than in Charleston.”

The family is already schlepping books and bookcases to Chicago to launch the store. Communities on both sides have supported their move, he said. 

“The community has been really behind us,” Judd said. “It was really surprising. Everything from people passing by and looking in while we’re fixing up the place to people just getting wind of that we were considering moving back and having another bookstore. People were just really positive about it. It was really surprising and touching, really, that people would remember [us] and be enthusiastic.”

Judd hopes Tangible Books can open by the end of October. Though some things will be different — like the location, the name and even the baby often seen in the shop who is now 13 — Judd says their neighborhood-centric way of doing business will remain the same.

He said he hopes Tangible Books can serve Bridgeport as positively as Myopic Books served Wicker Park when they owned it. 

“I think people in Bridgeport have told us that they really want a bookstore. And contrary to what everybody always says, people read,” Judd said. “Even in the small town we were in, people read, and there’s a need for a bookstore, even in the age of ebooks. It’s what people want, and hopefully we can give it to them.”

Everyone who supports Judd’s GoFundMe campaign will receive limited edition “I Helped Move The Bookstore” bookmarks. Those who make a donation of $20 or more will get a tote bag. Those who support with a donation of $50 or more will have 15 percent of their donation go to a store credit.

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